By Dave B.
Fun fact: Netflix released the second season of Daredevil 11 months after that show’s first season. It has been nearly 28 months since the first season of Jessica Jones (JJ1) initially graced our television screens. That has nothing to do with anything. I just like to remind people.
For a few reasons, I wasn’t expecting to like the second season of Jessica Jones (JJ2) as much as I liked JJ1. I think JJ1 was Marvel’s best television offering to date, bar none. However, JJ2 wouldn’t have the “SURPRISE! This Is Great” factor, wouldn’t have Michael Colter as Luke Cage, and would barely have David Tennant as Kilgrave. That said, I try to keep an open mind as much as possible and judge things on their own merit. In this case, I failed.
Perhaps my biggest disappointment with JJ2 is that it lacks a consistent theme. JJ1 was about trauma. Surviving trauma, coping with trauma, facing trauma, the impacts of trauma on loved ones, etc., etc. The theme of JJ2 is…apparently many things: trauma, recovery, family, addiction, relapse, envy, and mortality for starters. The lack of thematic focus really hurts JJ2.
I think having a different director for EVERY episode is a mistake. The quality of the episodes is inconsistent throughout the season. Or more accurately, the show seems to lack the direction that a single director (or a few directors) could have given the show. Some plot lines fade out for long periods of time. Some may have disappeared entirely. There was so much going on that it’s hard for me to remember.
JJ2’s showrunners made a bold decision by not having a “villain” in the traditional sense. Unfortunately, this often veers into not having a plausible antagonist at all. It also exacerbates some of Jessica’s less savory personality traits. She isn’t likable, and she isn’t supposed to be. But the result of that is that if she isn’t fighting evil, she’s going to look bad in comparison to everyone else. None of Jessica’s antagonists is evil. Although I applaud the realism of that decision, at times it can be harder to empathize with Jessica than it was in JJ1.
There are some bright spots to JJ2. I thought Eka Darville (as Malcolm) was great. Carrie-Anne Moss (as Jeri) was also good, as usual, although I may have removed her plot line from the season entirely. Finding out a bit more about Jessica’s past was interesting. Overall, this show had too many chefs in the kitchen. I hope I don’t have to wait another 2+ years for the third season, just to have it be at this level of execution. 6/10